Family wins bedroom tax reprieve on appeal

Mechelle and Derek Carlin outside their Duns home.
Mechelle and Derek Carlin outside their Duns home.
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A Duns family will receive a payment to make up for a cut to their housing benefit after lodging an appeal with the council.

The Carlins have been hit by the government’s new ‘bedroom tax’ this month, but appealed on the grounds that their disabled son is unable to share a room with his siblings.

Renee, Rhiana, Logan and Miya Carlin outside their Duns home

Renee, Rhiana, Logan and Miya Carlin outside their Duns home

They will still see their housing benefit reduced by £13.34 a week to pay for the additional room they are perceived to have in their four-bedroom house.

That amounts to a reduction in benefit of nearly £700 a year. But after being stunned by this judgement and appealing against it, the family received a call on Tuesday from Scottish Borders Council to say their situation had been reviewed.

They will now receive a discretionary housing payment to make up for the shortfall.

Relieved dad Derek lives in the family home in Winterfield Gardens along with his wife Mechelle and their four children – Renee, Rihana, 
Miya and Logan.

With Mechelle and Rihana suffering from mental health problems and Logan having cerebral palsy, home life is far from care free.

The family were stunned when they discovered they would be impacted by the controversial ‘bedroom tax’ introduced this year. Derek firmly believed his family should be exempt because their extra room is a necessity rather than a luxury.

He explained: “Logan has to have his own room downstairs for him and his medical equipment. He also regularly has night cramps which means he is up most nights.

“Any of the other children sharing a bedroom with him would be disturbed during the night several times and Logan would have to go to the toilet in front of them as he can’t make it to the bathroom.

“Rihana has her own room, the other two girls share another, and Mechelle and I have the other.

“Rihana is often up in the night with insomnia and anxiety, so we have a carer who can stay up with her if need be. They sleep on the couch.”

The Carlins first received notification of a potential reduction in housing benefit in October and were dealt a further blow on April 12 when Derek received a letter from an assessment supervisor from SBC to telling him that a discretionary housing payment wouldn’t be awarded.

However on Tuesday evening SBC confirmed the payment would be sanctioned.

A spokesperson said: “These additional payments are made at the council’s discretion, based on national guidelines; the council’s own policy; and the individuals’ financial circumstances. I understand staff have been working with Mr Carlin and the issue is now resolved.”